Viewing single post of blog working the shells

i sit and get myself comfortable.  above the laptop is a view into the garden, the naked strands of willow are being toyed with by the ebbing breeze.  with great excitement i edit and upload the images from last week.  i grab some tea and prepare to reflect.

the dog settles next to me and i can no longer put off the beginning of reflecting about my time in the derby museum and art gallery.

in the summer i’d been really cheeky and asked to be part of the installation of richard long’s cornish slate ellipse and thought no more of it.  the ellipse was to be part of an artist rooms show coming to derby complete with a crew from the tate.  at least that was what i was told.

in reality there was an opportunity to be a volunteer involved in the process and i grabbed it with both hands.


i sip my tea and ponder the memory of being first in the gallery, looking at the first four pieces of tape on the gallery floor and the 9 large containers of slate.  the team of four set to work to recreate the work.

the beginnings of that recreation involved aspects that were very obvious and aspects that would appear to us.

our guide from the tate had images and instructions and i loved james’s manner and gentleness, it was a pleasure to work with him.  in seeing the notes and images we all had questions and ideas about howto begin the work.

i found myself responding to the notes, images and the approach in the room.

i have to add that at the beginning of laying the slate blocks for the ellipse there was an unexplainable energy in the room.   what was it ?  i can say it was a feeling.  it wasn’t there to begin with.  it emerged.

we all worked together to begin the ellipse.  i felt we were learning from each other about the conventions as described in richard’s howto document.  i started to get how in placing the blocks we went from uninformed to informed and while informed were able to make more interesting decisions about placement of the next block.


the action of placing the slate blocks produced a feeling of rhythm and once with that rhythm the placing became easier.

working together made the whole process easier.

i loved the feeling i had when i had the rhythm.

a confidence developed in me about it was ok to go back to an area and edit it to make the visual aesthetic more pleasing and to release smaller blocks.


in total the slate weighs somewhere close to 4.5 metric tonnes.  it’s physically demanding work.  i developed a bit of a sweat.  curator jonathan spotted this while i was near the slate.  i improvised a bandana.



we all noticed how mentally draining the process was too.  part of our coping was to take time to stand back and review where we’d got to.  this standing back also helped to check over the visual aesthetic and there was great trust amongst the four of us to go back and edit to get the feeling to fit with the overall feeling.  i see now how that checking in with each other became a mutually supportive part of the process.



i went to the opening event. richard was there and said a few words.  in the wanderings that followed i noticed my fellow volunteer installer chatting with richard, even getting a selfie with him.

after chatting with colleagues from the museum i plucked up courage fuelled by their advice about what to say and went to chat with richard.  i’m glad i did.

our conversation concluded with a sincere handshake form richard and i left feeling great and toddled off to find those who’d helped me to tell them of my success.



returning to watching the willow through the window, i pause to think about the installation of cornish slate ellipse.   my experience has given me a deeper insite into the work of richard long and look forward to situations where i can draw upon this to help me in my life and practice.


the exhibition is at the derby museum and art gallery until march 4th 2018.